With season nearing a close, a look at fringe players' seasons

With season nearing a close, a look at fringe players' seasons


With a relatively slow midweek in place, let's take a look at some of the fringe members of the squad, how much they've played, and what we might expect from them for the remaining six to nine matches.

Goalkeeper: Lalo Fernandez. Lalo, the lanky young keeper from the Arizona academy, has yet to feature for the club in a senior match, but as the ostensible third-choice, there's nothing to be surprised about. A fractured wrist has kept him from full training — a frustrating occasion for the guy, no doubt — but his involvement and cheery demeanor during training — in which he helps during goalkeeping training and works on his footwork — are bright spots amidst the injury layoff.

Defender: Carlos Salcedo. During preseason, ex-academy center back Carlos Salcedo put in strong performances and had a true shout for being signed. But with Leone Cruz picked up instead, Salcedo went back to the academy and competed in the playoffs. The kid has returned, though, and he can be hopeful to see minutes next season as RSL's defensive ranks grow another year older. Currently behind Chris Schuler and Kwame Watson-Siriboe in the pecking order, he'll need to remain patient next season, but Open Cup and Reserves minutes for him should give him a chance to really prove his worth.

Midfielder: Sebastian Velasquez. The youthful dribble-master kid started the season with a bang: He started his first three matches — his first three professional matches, mind — featuring well in wins against the Galaxy and the Red Bulls. He made two further starts, first in the early season 2-0 win at Colorado, then in subsequent 1-0 loss against Sporting KC. The kid has found minutes hard to come by since, but in a season when any play from him was unexpected, he can be proud of his contribution. With a year of training and fitness under his belt, pushing on for a substitute role next season will be high on his list of tasks. He's got the talent, no doubt, but he must prove that he's got the mentality. I'm pegging him to show that.

Midfielder: Nico Muñiz. Not much is known about this young academy graduate. By me, I mean. By others, sure — his family, his friends, the coaching staff, the player himself — they all know a good deal about him, I'm sure. During reserves matches, he's featured across the midfield, and we saw him in preseason playing in the Beckerman Spot. Next season, he'll want to move forward past his reserves-only role, but he may find minutes hard to come by with intense competition around him. We're still waiting for the first minutes from an academy grad — will they be his?

Midfielder: Enzo Martinez. Enzo Martinez, our first round draft pick, was never expected to drop as low in the draft selection as he did. But the slight drop-off was our gain: Enzo, a highly talented midfielder with one eye  on attack and the other on defense, seemed custom-tailored to RSL's distinctive strategy. His lack of minutes, then, would seem a little bit of a surprise: He's rated by the coaching staff, he shows well in training, and he seems to get his head down and simply get to work. But while he looks the right quality now, he didn't start that way, despite all his promise: He wasn't used to the pace, the style, the system — with that under his belt, and with a year's worth of training, he'll undoubtedly move up in Jason Kreis's depth chart. For reference, see Luis Gil circa 2010.

Midfielder: David Viana. The young Portuguese, only just signed, hasn't had time to bed into the system in a significant way. The attacking midfielder will want to make an early mark when he sees time, but don't be too surprised if he has to wait until the middle of 2013 to do so.

Forward: Emiliano Bonfigli. Without a single start in his nine matches for the club — leaving him with a slender 217 minutes this campaign, Emiliano Bonfigli has showed some promise. He doesn't struggle to be involved, which is certainly to his benefit, but he and his teammates aren't always on the same page, as evidenced by runs that simply don't connect with intentions. It's not the worst problem a young striker can have: He's still looking to make runs in the first place, and with time, he and his teammates should gain a good understanding.

Forward: Justin Braun. A Utah native, Braun got his start at Chivas USA and became an important player, then was picked up in the expansion draft by Montreal Impact. His time in Canada, though, saw him fall basically out of favor. When we had a chance to pick him up — and have half his salary paid by his former club — we jumped on it. He's featured only twice since jumping back to Salt Lake, starting once, and will be looking to push on next year, turning his back on a rough 2012 campaign.